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Krysten Ritter Set To Star, Produce 1960s Astronaut Comedy For NBC

Just recently we told you about Will Ferrell’s new production company set to focus on female-led television and film comedy projects. I think this project it too new to fall under their umbrella but it totally fits. Don’t Trust the B star Krysten Ritter is leading a new NBC series called Mission Control where she’ll play a NASA engineer in 1965. 

The Hollywood Reporter writes, “The workplace ensemble comedy, from executive producer Will Ferrell, is set in 1962 and in the tone of Anchorman. The single-camera comedy examines what happens when a strong woman butts heads with a macho astronaut in the race to land on the moon.”

Your mileage may vary on Anchorman, and this series has the potential to go terribly wrong, but we’re hoping it doesn’t because LADY NASA ENGINEER! But here’s the gist:

Ritter will star as Mary, the tough girl and head engineer who leads the Apollo team at Mission Control at the NASA Manned Space Center (in 1965). She’s a woman in a man’s world who is super-smart, brisk without being brusque and immensely capable without losing her feminine appeal. When Tom Stone is brought in to add balance to Mission Control, Mary sees it as a sexist attempt to undercut everything she has done.

Malcolm Barrett and Jonathan Slavin are also set to star with It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia’s David Hornsby writing the script. We’ll next be seeing Ritter reprise her role of Gia in the Veronica Mars movie (woo!).

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  • Anonymous

    “immensely capable without losing her feminine appeal” — Man that phrasing bugs me. I don’t like the implication that the norm is that if you’re immensely capable, you usually lose your feminine appeal, that capable is the opposite of feminine. They probably didn’t mean it that way, but it jumped out at me.

  • R.O.U.S.

    She’s a tricky one – she can be super cute and confident or gratingly obnoxious. I’ll obviously be rooting for the former since the setting of this sounds pretty fab.

  • Anonymous

    This show sounds like an AstroNOT!

  • Debbie Valenta

    “I Dream of Jeannie” meets “Mad Men”? I’m all over it.

  • Lisa Liscoumb

    Tsabhira, I thought the same thing when I read that line.

  • Mordicai

    Don’t Trust the B is a premise that I had a hard time swallowing but immediately sucked me in because of Ritter, who I first noticed as a supporting character on Gilmore Girls. Her in a premise I am excited about? Hooray!

  • Anonymous

    So she replaces von Braun (probably the best option), is one of von Braun’s subordinates, or this is a totally contrived non-admin position? There were numerous engineering projects within Apollo that had actual engineering leadership, but there wasn’t someone who “engineered” the whole thing. Even von Braun was mostly there to consult. Actual engineers doing actual engineering were pretty far down on the totem pole. Assuming it’s not some cheesy “Missile to the Moon” deal her “workplace” would be traveling to assembly plants, coordinating schedules and managing the many production and testing problems.
    My second thought is are they really going to crack jokes about the Apollo 1 fire? Are they going to ignore it? What about all the other problems the program had? Every time they launched anything there were engineering problems, many of them quite serious. Will their version of the space race never accomplish anything, white wash the entire program, or joke about the real horrors and problems of the Apollo program?
    Historical comedy is at best tricky, you can have a comedy set in a non-comedic situations, but they tend to have a very sad and sobering death related component like MASH or the WWI series of Black Adder.
    Yet another side of this is are they going to dumb down the astronauts themselves nearly all of whom were engineers? It was pretty common for them to work with the actual engineers, or be put in admin positions, and with the engineering of the actual space suit NASA did (catastrophically) impose “balance” on the engineering process because they didn’t trust Playtex – a “women’s products” company.
    Admittedly I rarely find modern comedy funny at all, I frequently find it sadistic and disturbing, so there’s that, but since this was part of my youth if they do it right I’ll probably watch.

  • Kathy

    This sounds horrific.

  • literary_lottie

    I really don’t see this premise working as a comedy. I don’t think contemporary comedic writing has the subtlety necessary for the subject matter. As a period drama about a turbulent time in the space program, a la Mad Men or Bomb Girls? Yes. But as an Anchorman-type comedy? No. There’s just WAY too much potential for insensitivity. Like, are you really going to make jokes about the crew of Apollo 1 dying in a fire during launch rehearsal?

    I’ll watch the first couple of episodes anyway because I’m all about supporting women-led comedy, but I’m super skeptical.

  • Amanda LaPergola


    *reads article*

    Well, that is incredibly fascinating and shows a lot of promise.


  • Anonymous

    The Apollo fire wasn’t until 1967. If this is set in 1962, they won’t have to worry about that until their fifth season.

    I just read Rocket Girl, a book about Mary Sherman Morgan who developed the rocket fuel for the first US orbital flight. I gathered that she was pretty intense, but a great bridge player. (She was one of the few female engineers working at North American Rockwell.)

    I still have my doubts about setting the show at NASA. For a real 60s feel, they should have gone with Polaroid or some pastiche company run by a madcap inventor. Land, who founded Polaroid, hired lots of women to work as engineers. He had a pipeline to the chemistry departments at a couple of women’s colleges, so he got first rate talent without a lot of competition.

  • Anonymous

    I’m intensely wary of this whole setup, but a large part of that is probably because I find modern comedies really crass and unappealing. Setting it in the 60s makes it sound like they want to be even more crass and blatantly sexist- for laughs- and handwave it away as “oh, that’s just how things were back then.”

    I would really love to watch something about NASA and the space program, I just wish it wasn’t being geared as a comedy. Maybe if they were going to set it up as a 60s style comedy, back when humor was still relatively tame and a lot less vulgar, that would be OK, but the show we’re likely to get isn’t something I’ll be able to watch. And yes, based on every other major comedy that’s been on TV for the past ten years or so I feel pretty confident making that judgment call without seeing a single second of footage. If the commercials wind up making it sound better I might give it a look, but I really REALLY hate the entire comedy genre right now. Unless you include the muppets, since they still remember how to be funny without being disgusting.

    Now I’m going to go off and picture a a more dramatic show about a smart, pretty young lady with more brains than all the men around her and a ruthless streak a mile wide. She’s going to scrape and claw and subliminally influence her way up the corporate ladder without the menfolk quite realizing what’s happening until it’s too late. Eventually she’ll wind up as Cave Johnson’s personal assistant and then things will get REALLY interesting.